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General Information

In functional hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), the body is temporarily unable to use stored reserves of sugar to meet sudden increased demands for energy. These increased needs may result from emotional stress and excitement or vigorous exercise, such as hunting or running.

Common signs of hypoglycemia are dizziness, fainting and convulsions. Often a hunting dog will faint or have a seizure while running, recover spontaneously in a few minutes, and then be lethargic the rest of the day. We will also see this condition in small breed dogs, especially young ones, that have been very active or eating irregularly. These dogs may become very weak before having seizure like episodes. Diagnosis is based on these signs, plus blood sugar assays. Offering a treat of a high carbohydrate content like white Karo syrup will often provide releif within minutes if hypoglycemia is the problem.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Prevention:

____Feed ____ small meals daily, consisting of

____Just before exercise, feed a meal of

___During exercise, give

every__________ hours or ____ times daily.

2. Emergency treatment: At the first sign of weakness, give sugar in the form of ___________

Repeat every ____________________. If the dog loses consciousness, take it to the nearest veterinarian.

3. Management: In addition to special dietary instructions, precondition hunting dogs for the season by regular progressive exercise, beginning at least 3 weeks before hunting season.


Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your pet's seizures persist or become more severe.

* Your pet has seizures in the absence of exercise or stress.

* Your pet drinks more water or urinates more frequently than normal.

* Your pet begins to lose weight.


Hypoglycemia is the medical term used to describe abnormally low levels of blood glucose. Blood glucose, which is another term for blood sugar, is regulated by insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by cells that are called "beta cells", that are part of the endocrine pancreas. Dogs that go into hypoglycemia suffer from weakness, they can collapse, and/or go into seizures. Some toy breeds suffer from hypoglycemia as a metabolic disorder. Sometimes in hunting dogs hypoglycemia occurs at the beginning of the hunting season, and is usually the result of poor conditioning and can also be related to poor nutrition.

It is imperative that owners of breeds of dog that are susceptible to attacks be aware of some of the clinical signs of the onset of an attack of hypoglycemia. These signs can include the dog becoming noticeably confused, disoriented, becomes drowsy at unusual times, shivers, and/or staggers about. An advanced stage is the dog collapses, and goes into an unconscious state. The entire sequence of clinical signs is not always seen, so close observation of your pet and knowing when your dog is going into a distressed state, can mean the difference between life and death of your dog. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is imperative, as recurrence of, or prolonged attacks, can cause permanent damage to the brain.

Sometimes a dog will outgrow this condition since it affects puppies 5 to 16 weeks of age most commonly. However, if the dog is high strung, or has a lot of nervous energy, the dog will need to be watched carefully, and kept in a calm state. Some instances that precipates an attack might be: the puppy being placed in a new home, or while being shipped. It may occur if a puppy misses a meal, becomes chilled, or becomes exhausted from too much play.
What can you do for your dog if you notice the early signs of hypoglycemia? You may want to let the dog have some sugar water, or Karo syrup, or even some honey. Just a teaspoon or so, depending on the size of your dog. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog becomes unconscious, have someone call your vet, and get the dog to the vet immediately. Place the dog on a rigid surface for transport, and have a rider check to make sure the dog has not inhaled its own secretions, or has strangled on its tongue.

If you are fortunate enough to have a veterinarian diagnose your dog with hypoglycemia, before any serious attacks occur, have the veterinarian go over symptoms, first aid for your dog, and any other emergency procedures that you may need to know.

The information on this page was obtained from the site www.barkbytes.com